The new novel by the author of I Smile Back, now a film starring Sarah Silverman.
The acclaimed author of I Smile Back, Amy Koppelman is a novelist of astonishing power, with a sly, dark voice, at once fearless and poetic. In Koppelman’s new novel, Dr. Susanna Seliger is a renowned psychiatrist who specializes in treatment-resistant depression. The most difficult cases come through her door, and Susa is always ready to discuss treatment options, medication, and symptom management but draws the line at engaging with feelings. A strict adherence to protocol keeps her from falling apart.
But her past is made present by one patient, Jim, whose struggles tear open Susa’s hastily stitched up wounds, revealing her latent feeling that she could have helped the people closest to her, especially her adored, cool, talented graffiti-artist brother. Spectacularly original, gorgeously unsettling, HESITATION WOUNDS is a novel that will sink deep and remain—like a persistent scar or a dangerous glow-in-the-dark memory.
What People are Saying about Hesitation Wounds:
“Hesitation Wounds reads like a fever dream, or the last second of a deeply feeling woman’s life. It is full of brilliantly observed pain and truth. It is an in-depth unblinking report on the deepest of all bonds, familial love. It is spare but it is also somehow full. Its truths are so sharp I began to read with my head slightly averted, as if expecting the next blow. She is way more unflinching than you or me. Her language is simple, deceptively so, the further she goes, as if depth stole oxygen and there was only so much breath left for words, so they had better be true. And they are true. It’s a jagged, dangerous, beautiful book that affirms life even as it affirms the impossibility of life. Like Beckett, she can’t go on, she will go on.” (David Duchovny, author of Holy Cow)
“Amy Koppelman has wrangled into the world a marvel of a book in terms of language and character and story. It should find her the audience she’s long deserved.”
(Mary Karr, The New York Times bestselling author of The Liar’s Club and Lit)
“Fearless, unflinching, entrancing”
(Thomas Beller, author of J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist)
“Who are we without the ones we love? Amy Koppelman’s brilliant latest is richly sympathetic, and deeply moving, and truly, like that one lone star sparkling in the darkest sky. Gorgeously written, the novel is so hypnotic that you don’t dare risk taking your eyes from the page.”
(Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You)
“Readers who like psychological fiction and don’t expect a conventional narrative will appreciate Koppelman’s exploration of the struggle to come to terms with loss.” (Booklist)
“[Koppleman’s] a novelist of astonishing depth and power, with a dark and haunting voice that is both lyrical and fearless.”
“Somber and absorbing.” (Interview.com)
“In her spare but richly layered third novel, Amy Koppelman explores what happens when a life ruptures with the trauma of loss ― and what happens with the sutures knitting that wound begin to unravel.”
“Koppelman’s newest novel stares at me. I’m drawn towards its unflinching gaze.” (The Quivering Pen)
About the Author:
Amy Koppelman is a graduate of Columbia’s MFA program. Her writing has appeared in The New York Observer and Lilith. She lives in New York City with her husband, Brian Koppelman, and their two children. Her previous novels are A Mouthful of Air and I Smile Back, slated for the Toronto Film Festival and general release in Fall 2015.
Amy also wrote ‘I Smile Back’ which was adapted into a film in 2015 starring actress/comedian Sarah Silverman. Sarah was recently nominated for a SAG award based on her performance of Laney.
You can see the movie trailer for ‘I Smile Back’ here:
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Twitter (coming soon) @AmyLKoppelman
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To Contact Amy and/or request her books to review please email:
Amy’s Other Books:
I Smile Back
Now a major motion picture starring Sarah Silverman in her dramatic-acting debut, and Josh Charles, I Smile Back tells the affecting tale of Laney Brooks, a mother and wife on a self-destructive streak. She takes the drugs she wants, sleeps with the men she wants, disappears when she wants. Lurking beneath Laney’s seemingly composed surface is the impulse to follow in her father’s footsteps, to leave and topple her family’s balance in the process.
The film adaptation of I Smile Back premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in the prestigious US Dramatic competition. Silverman’s affecting dramatic turn in the lead role has garnered praise in film trade reviews as “tremendous,” “terrific,” and “awards worthy,” and will inspire an onslaught of attention upon the film’s national theatrical release.
What People are Saying about ‘I Smile Back’
“Powerful. Koppelman’s instincts help her navigate these choppy waters with inventiveness and integrity.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Koppelman explores with ruthless honesty a woman come undone.”
“Koppelman mostly writes from inside Laney’s disillusioned mind, ricocheting between the quotidian details of wife and motherhood and big-picture musings, forming exquisite stand-alone tone poems.”
From Publishers Weekly
This crushing novel by the author of A Mouthful of Air is a shocking portrait of suburban ennui gone horribly awry. Laney Brooks, approaching middle age in Short Hills, N.J., appears to have it all: doting husband, two beautiful children, the big house with a kidney-shaped pool. But beneath the facade of upper-middle-class perfection, Laney’s life descends into a chasm of indiscriminate sex and drug and alcohol abuse. Koppelman’s prose style is understated and crackling; each sentence is laden with a foreboding sense of menace, whether she’s describing a sunny Florida resort or the back alley of a seedy strip mall. Laney’s self-debasement can be a bit over-the-top at times, but like a crime scene or a flaming car wreck, it becomes impossible not to stare. (Dec.)
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Laney, beautiful, married with two children and a seemingly fine suburban life, feels only impending doom shadowing her and everyone else’s life. She finishes many sentences in her mind with “and then you die,” and comes to know that “nothing bad needs to happen for her to feel sad.” So she misbehaves: drinks too much, uses drugs, and sleeps around. Her husband, ever patient, copes and sends her to rehab, but nothing connects or fills the hole left by her father’s abandonment long ago. She always expects failure and loss. Koppelman has visited this area before with a more sympathetic character in A Mouthful of Air (2003). Koppelman’s writing is expressive and nuanced, so the reader recognizes Laney’s pain, but doesn’t feel it. And perhaps that is the point. Her separation from everyone, even the reader, is her strongest characteristic. Her aloneness gives her the distance she both wants and fears. Therefore this potent novel is captivating in the way watching a car wreck might be. It is not easy or comfortable or for the faint of heart. –Danise Hoover
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A Mouthful of Air
A Mouthful of Air begins a few weeks after Julie Davis’s suicide attempt and on the eve of her son’s first birthday. Desperate to lead a “normal” life, Julie tries to be thankful for the good things: her comfortable lifestyle, her doting husband and her healthy little boy. But her emotional demons are unrelenting, and the battle is being quietly lost
What people are saying about ‘A Mouthful of Air’
From Publishers Weekly
Lean, minutely detailed and frighteningly convincing, this polished debut explores the mind of Julie Davis, a privileged 26-year-old New Yorker suffering from postpartum depression after giving birth to her son, Teddy. The novel begins just after she tries to commit suicide, soon before Teddy’s first birthday. Back from the hospital and home with her husband, Ethan, and Teddy’s live-in nurse, Georgie, Julie struggles to feign normality, continually reassuring herself that she can function perfectly well: “She will empty the stroller and pay for what she has. She will tell Ethan to bring home bottled water or just use water from the tap.” The plot moves along the grooves of her depressed, circular thinking, fed by small, ordinary developments: a Knicks game, a Tupperware party, a trip to the grocery store with Teddy, a move to the suburbs. Tranquil as her life is on the outside, her mind never rests, constantly struggling with the voice in her head that she describes as a “skeptical, mocking, bitter person furious she is alive.” Memories of childhood with her father intrude often. He called her Flower, but treated her and her mother roughly, leaving many scars. Another frequently heard voice is that of her mother whose motto is “If you look happy and pretty, then you are happy and pretty.” Ethan is patient and thoughtful, though he has odd lapses, calling his formerly bulimic wife “Tiny.” Koppelman skillfully builds suspense as Julie battles with her demons, conjuring up an airless, oppressively stifling world. Though all signs point to the disturbing ending, it still comes as a surprise.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This effective first novel portrays the deep and abiding depression of a young wife and mother, newly returned to her family after a suicide attempt. Julie’s life shows that love, money, privilege, and position are no guarantee of happiness, and that there is no logic to depression. So visceral is Koppelman’s prose, the reader truly feels the depths of Julie’s spirit and the toll of her continual struggle to keep herself afloat. Although living in the present and benefiting from today’s psychopharmacology, Julie seems remarkably untouched by the tremendous changes in women’s lives since the 1960s. She marries very young, has no career, and becomes a mother right away. Her being out of sync with society emphasizes how out of touch she is with feelings of success or contentment. Unexpectedly pregnant again, she must give up the drugs that have helped her survive and risk all for the baby. Despite an air of melodrama at the end, this tragic tale, though difficult to read, is worth the effort. Danise Hoover
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